By Ken Krayeske • 7:00 AM EST
The funny pages have not been the same since Berke Breathed quit the daily Opus routine almost 20 years ago.
I wish I could see what story lines he would cook up around the Obama-McCain campaign. McCain talking into a dead cell phone line for 18 minutes the other day takes the cake for me.
The Sunday-only version of Opus or Outland or whatever Breathed calls it now lacks the daily wit and topical humor of the old Bloom County.
Take, for example, this prescient cartoon panel from 1988, when Frank Jones, the father of Oliver Wendell Jones, accurately predicts the political leaning of the first black American president.
Did Frank think it would be two decades before America saw a black man even come close to the White House? Who knows the recesses of Berke Breathed's imagination?
In 1988, Obama has just entered into Harvard Law School. He was just beginning his storied rise to the top of the law review to community organizer to U.S. Senate seat. But did he know he would someday be an American dauphin? As a conservative?
If I am a liberal, then Obama looks more and more like conservative. I wouldn't expect any other analysis of him at Counterpunch, especially from a civil rights attorney whose son is three-time national Ralph Nader presidential campaign staffer.
Yet when the Nation goes after Obama's economists, and the critique is reprinted at the Huffington Post, Obama's rightward tilt isn't a figment of the leftist imagination:
The economic advisors who are assisting Senator Obama's campaign are helping him stake out a position on the subprime lending crisis 'to the right of not only populist Edwards but Clinton as well.'
So if he is to the right of Clinton, who is he with? Clinton is a centrist, Edwards is a populist with centrist leanings. The mainstream political spectrum in America tilts so far to the right, that in my view, even a centrist (Lieberman?) is a conservative. The right wing stumbles into fascism.
After the past two weeks, there can remain no question that Obama's populist image does not match his hawkish rhetoric. Heck, since he ascended to become the Democratic nominee for president, he has leapt into the center.
FISA? Obama says its okay to wiretap now.
Guns? He agrees with Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia on the recent pro-handgun ruling, which some are calling the creation of a new right to convenience. When the Supreme Court makes up a right out of thin air, law scholars call it natural law, when the justices look outside the Constitution for rules on interpreting the Constitution.
Many tend to think it is generally bad law. It's the theory of law that gave us Dred Scott, Plessy v. Ferguson, Lochner and Roe v. Wade. It is somewhat dishonest, especially when a guy like Scalia tries to interpret the Constitution literally everywhere else.
Obama, a former Constitutional law professor, is now siding with a man who thinks the Supreme Court should view the Constitution as it was originally written. Does Scalia want that we should be returning fugitive slaves to their owners?
While I think Ralph Nader fumbled the words he used the other day to criticize Obama's whiteness, I always hoped the first black candidate for president would say we needed to amend the Constitution to eliminate the three slave provisions contained therein.
There's the fugitive slave provision as above, then the 1808 provision that allows the slave trade to flourish, and then there's the three-fifths compromise, which counts every slave as 60% of a person for Congressional representation purposes.
Sure, the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments corrected these wrongs rights' wise. But the fact that our Constitution still carries this language is shameful. Connecticut's calling for a Constitutional convention, why not the U.S.A.?
But that is probably what white people are afraid of. Matt Taibbi's recent column - the Full Metal McCain - describes this racism problem more eloquently and honestly than Ralph could.
So perhaps that's why Obama has gotten all neocon regarding Iran and Israel. Obama has displayed some of the rhetoric of a liberal foreign policy, like when he says he'd like to meet with Iran's president Ahmedinejad. But he has largely backtracked and advocated surgical nuclear missile strikes, especially where protecting Israel is concerned.
Obama's race to the center-right of the political spectrum would be funny were it not so frustrating. Which is why we need an honest, biting look at the folly of this election from a guy like Breathed. What kind of predictions might he make based on this campaign? One can only imagine...